James K. Polk

Letter to the Democratic National Convention Declining the Presidential Nomination

May 18, 1848

Dear Sir—

From Speculations which have appeared in the public journals, and from frequent enquiries which have been made of me by many political friends, some of them delegates to the National Democratic Convention which will assemble at Baltimore on the 22d inst. I am induced to suppose it may be the desire of some of my friends to propose my re-nomination as the candidate of the democratic party for the office of President of the United States.

Should you ascertain that such is the intention of any of the delegates, I desire, through you, to communicate to the Convention, that I am not a candidate for the nomination; and that any use of my name with that view, which may be contemplated, is without agency or desire on my part.

The purpose declared in my letter of the 12th of June, 1844, in accepting the nomination tendered to me by the Democratic National Convention of that year, remains unchanged, and to relieve the Convention from any possible embarrassment which the suggestion of my name might produce in making a free selection of a successor who may be best calculated to give effect to their will, and guard all the interests of your beloved country, I deem it proper to reiterate the sentiments contained in that letter.

Since my election, I have often expressed the desire, which I still feel, to retire to private life, at the close of my present term. I entertain the confident hope and belief that my democratic friends of the Convention will unite in the harmonious nomination of some citizen to succeed me, who, if elected, will firmly maintain and carry out the great political principle embodied in the resolutions adopted by the Democratic National Convention of 1844—principles which it has been the earnest endeavor, and, the constant aim of my administration to preserve and pursue: and upon the observation of which, in my opinion, mainly depends the prosperity and prominent welfare of our country. On reviewing the history of my administration, and the remarkable events, foreign and domestic, which have attended it, if it shall he the judgement of my countrymen that I have adhered to these principles and faithfully performed my duty, the measure of my ambition is full: and I am amply compensated for all the labors, cares, and anxieties, which are inseparable from the high station which I have been called to fill.

I shall ever cherish sentiments of deep gratitude to my fellow-citizens for the confidence they reposed in me, in electing me to the most distinguished and responsible public trust on earth. It is scarcely necessary that I should add, that it will be no less my duty, than it will be my sincere pleasure, as a citizen, to unite with my democratic friends in the support of the nominees of the Convention for the office of President and Vice President of the United States.

With great respect,

I am, your obedient servant,


To: Dr. J. G. Ramsay, of Tennessee.

Source: "President James K Polk—His Letter to the Baltimore Convention" Detroit Free Press, June 3, 1848.

James K. Polk, Letter to the Democratic National Convention Declining the Presidential Nomination Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/342164

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